Sunday, March 20, 2022

Xavi's first Clásico

 When Xavi Hernandez became FC Barcelona manager in November the mighty Catalonian side were in a slump; on the way out of the Champions League and outside the top spots in the League, and expectations were that Xavi would have time to build up a new side. 

Today FC Barcelona roundly defeated the La Liga leaders Real Madrid 0-4 at the Santiago Bernabeu, and they played like the Barcelona-side of other times; the result was not larger only thanks to Courtois in the home goal.

FC Barcelona has always had a talented side, even after Messi left, but Xavi has given them confidence in their style; notably the often-criticized Ousmane Dembelé appears to have had a rebirth under Xavi. The team has also been supplemented by some extraordinary players: Ferran Torres (signed in December) was outstanding today, with one goal, and the newly signed Pierre-Emerick Aubemeyang scored two goals.

FC Barcelona are still 9 points behind Real Madrid, who remains likely to win the league, but the result today certainly announces that FC Barcelona is back on the top under Xavi's leadership. They can still win the Europa-League, and after defeating Galatasaray this week, are probably favourites.

Real Madrid in the meantime played what is arguably one of their worst games of the season, and although they remain comfortably on first spot, this result hurts and exposed some weaknesses that were also seen when they played Paris St. Germain in the Champions League. Karim Benzema, who did not play today, was able to punish PSGs dreadful mistakes when everything seemed in their favour. But without Benzema today the counterattacks lacked something, and when going behind, they offered nothing in the way of a comeback. Ancelotti could offer nothing to counter Barcelona's game, and that was perhaps the biggest surprise of the match.

Be sure that we will see much more of Xavi's Barcelona.

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